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Lions vs. Steelers: Beware the throwbacks

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The Steelers' defense is nasty in their prison-inspired alternative jerseys. As a unit, they stuffed their opponents in two games, holding them to 23 percent on third down conversions. Their stats give rise to hope they can continue as top dogs.

Justin K. Aller

At least they stand out.

No one could miss the bumblebee-striped uniforms the Steelers wore in their two alternative jersey games last season -  a Week 8 win over the Washington Redskins and a Week 11 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. They drew all sorts of responses - mostly negative.

Perhaps they bring some kind of sense of higher power.

The Steelers defense performed remarkably in those two games, despite only having won one of them. They allowed just four field goals to the Redskins - who had come into that game with one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL. With the help of a few dropped passes, they held rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III to a 16-for-35 passing day with 177 yards and one touchdown. As a team, they rushed for 86 yards.

Baltimore didn't score an offensive touchdown in their win, getting a punt return score from Jacoby Jones as the Steelers' offense sputtered without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. It was the first of three games Roethlisberger would miss, including a Week 13 rematch win over the Ravens.

Baltimore rushed for 47 yards in that game, and between the two Bee-Jersey games, the Steelers stopped their opponents to 6-for-26 (23 percent) on third downs.

Clearly, the Steelers' defense reaches top dog status when dressed as pollen-pursuing criminals.

They'll wear them this Sunday when the Steelers take on the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions - the only time this year the throwbacks will be worn. Perhaps the garish look of them led to a one-game reduction this season. Perhaps there aren't enough people who would actually wear them in public, so the team felt it better just to give it one more game, against the team least likely to draw the most attention in Pittsburgh.

The defense has performed well twice in them, though, and they'll need a third time if they're going to stop the high-powered Lions' offense.

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